Saturday, 3 December 2016


Life is hard when you are three years old.  Harriet has chickenpx and is confined to barracks just now.

She can't go to Nursery which mean Iain and I have had the pleasure of her company on a couple of occasions.

To keep her amused we get out the felt pens at the kitchen table.  Here is the Waitrose (supermarket) robin complete with spots (snowflakes, I think) so we were colouring robins today... or as they say in these parts "colouring in". 

For 3 years old she has remarkable dexterity!  We have also graduated to making paper chain figures ... which takes me back. Again she can hold scissors extremely well for so one so young!

She makes us laugh with some of her words  "Grandpa is at his 'puter."  "I don't like that. It tastes 'gusting!"

Wednesday, 30 November 2016


It is St Andrew's Day, November 30th. Before the day is out I must share my story of my November night sky observations.

For much of the month the weather has been remarkably bright and clear both during the day but also at night. On several occasions  when I was up during the night I observed a bright white light ... and as I reported to Iain in the morning ... the light had a port and starboard light on either side.  Weird ... but that is how I saw it on repeated occasions.

It was in the south-east and low in the sky. I could not hear a plane coming overhead, nor find any planes arriving at Glasgow airport (using Flighttracker24). 

I mentioned this to a few folk over the weeks and got interesting responses:  "Yer mad Woman!" (Iain) .... through to ...  "Get yourself a star chart and see what lines up. (Alastair).

Well, it is a star! This website* clinched it for me when it said  "anyone familiar with the constellation Orion can simply draw a line through Orion’s Belt, to the left. "  The star is Sirius and appears, especially in November  in the northern latitude, low in the sky and very bright.

This photo is the position of these stars as seen from the back garden.

But what about the colour? I had never realized that stars could twinkle in colour.  They do, and Sirius can be seen with any number of colours; it has been given the name The Rainbow Star.

And the following explains how this occurs:

The brightness, twinkling and color changes sometimes prompt first-time observers to report Sirius as a UFO. But these changes have nothing to do with Sirius. Rather, they are what happens when such a bright star as Sirius shines through the blanket of Earth’s atmosphere. The light from Sirius, which often appears fairly low in the sky from the mid-north latitudes, passes through a long column of air before it reaches our eyes. Changes in density and temperature of this air affect the light and cause the flickering and shimmering we see when we gaze at this star. This happens for other stars, too, but it is more noticeable for Sirius because it is so bright, and because it appears low in the sky.
 * Ref:

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While I was fascinated to learn about this star I also learned 2 other striking things:

[1] In my report of this sighting (I genuinely believed I was looking at a plane coming in toward me as we live on a flight path for Glasgow Airport but the flights are not usually from that south-east direction) I used descriptive words which skewed my 'report'.  If I had said I saw a white shining light with red and green on either side I might have had a different/better/less shrill reaction.  But having seen exactly that kind of light at sea (ships in the distance coming towards us, or, indeed, passing far away on the horizon heading for some port or other) I used that terminology and unwittingly affected the outcome.

[2] This observation could form a nice little kernel for a sociological study on personality types!  Glass half full people reactions vs Glass half empty reactions!

[Thanks to Jane in Kelowna for this wine glass image!]

Later - some feedback:  you omitted to give the Engineer's take on the glass half full situation which is "the glass is twice as large as it needs to be"!!!!

Wednesday, 9 November 2016


It's all over ... and nobody was more shocked than this woman!

(Facebook - no source given)
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Maybe Canada Should Build a Wall?

Friday, 4 November 2016


Sheds seem to be the 'in thing' these days.  I have known writer's huts, potting sheds and cottages (even!) called 'sheds' but nowadays things have been taken to a much higher level.

Take this fellow: Phil Sisson in his Glasgow shed making  Raindrops on Roses, a Belgian Wit style beer, brewed with rose petals. He has recently won a prize in which he stated "It is just fantastic to have been able to impress the judges with my own creation. I originally brewed the beer as a present for my wife's birthday and my daughter chose the musical-themed name, so it is a truly family affair."


This week an arrangement of poppies has been set up at the Milngavie centotaph. At first it was the large splash of red that caught my eye but on closer inspection I had a double-take; they were all knitted!

 And some of the contributors were ... a local 'Men's Shed'!



Wednesday, 2 November 2016


Hallowe'en is an exciting time for the children.  Here are some photos taken by John of the whole gang when they went on an outing this week to buy a pumpkin (or two).
Mairi, Alastair (8.75 years), Ishbel (9.75 years)  with Ellie (1.5 years) on her shoulders, John with Harriet (3 years) on his shoulders.

Alastair, Ellie, Ishbel and Harriet

Harriet ... I really like this photo!

and lastly  * * * * * * * * *  a joke ....

A man arrives in Camelot and notices the Knights sitting at the Round Table.  "That's a rather nice table." he says.  "Who designed that?"
Sir Cumference!

Monday, 31 October 2016


We were in Blair Atholl on Saturday at the Glenfiddich Piping Championships.  Perthshire was looking wonderful in all the autumn colours. The event took place in the Ballroom in Blair Castle. We joined John and Ilona who were down from Skye.

Blair Castle grounds

Blair Castle

Champion of Champions - Roddy MacLeod            [His Facebook page]

BBC Report states:
"A piper from Glasgow has won the prestigious Glenfiddich Piping Championship for the fifth time.
Roddy MacLeod claimed the 2016 title after competing against some of the world's most highly acclaimed pipers.
The championship was established in 1974 to bring together the world's finest players.
All 10 competitors who were invited to take part at the event at Blair Castle in Perthshire had won other piping events during the past year."  

 And 4 cetureies ago....

De doedelzakspeler ("Bagpipe Player"), Hendrick ter Brugghen, 1624 [Wikipedia]

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 Meanwhile back in Scotland ... the next morning

First light on the rooftops in Pitlochry

5 minutes later -catching the morning light.     I think Brugghen would have approved.

Friday, 28 October 2016


Greetings to our lovely Swedish friends: this is for you!

Last week a friend and I went to see Scottish Opera'S production of The Marriage of Figaro.  It's a well-known and much loved Mozart opera but neither my friend nor I had ever seen it.  Indeed, I played the Overture to M of F in our Salmon Arm High School Band...about 1960 or so.

What a treat to come across this fellow!  He is Tobias Ringborg and is from Stockholm!  He is presently in Glasgow conducting this opera.

Because my friend is visually impaired she reminded me that it would be best if we could have seats right down close to the stage.  Well we ended up in the front row about 6 along to the right of the conductor and also had a bonus of a bird's eye view into the orchestra pit.
Yes, the staging and the singing and the acting - so animated! - was up to its excellent standard, and there were even super-titles.  But I just couldn't take my eyes off this fellow!  He conducted with just a hymnary-sized hardback book on his podium and silently mouthed every singer's part.  He would have his head up all the time and occasionally stop to leaf over a fistful of pages and then carry on... (unfortunately seldom pausing for applause, however. Well... it is a rather long opera.)
The audience - and we are talking about a Glasgow audience who are a very, very special group of people at whatever the occasion! - gave the orchestra a very warm and appreciative applause at the end.   (I am not talking about the American style where people shout and stand up ... no this was hearty and sustained.)  I had never heard it before; it was wonderful to be part of it!

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These 2 photos taken by Ryan Garrison, 2012, are from the Tobias Ringborg website:

What do I like about this one?  The red barn wall ... so Swedish ... says it all!